In an oft-repeated anecdote, Australian actor Nick Lathouris tells of the arrival of Jerzy Grotowski’s ideas in Australia in 1969 — courtesy of a badly-Xeroxed copy of Towards a Poor Theatre that circulated between the acting company that formed around director Rex Cramphorn in Sydney as a kind of hallowed totem, a connection to a rich vein of tradition and experimentation in training in a continent that was sorely lacking both. Speaking of the same period, playwright John Romeril remembers the early days of the Australian Performing Group (APG) recalls: “much of what we did by way of acting exercises we drew from magazines and books. We read of and ripped off whatever came our way”. Origin myths such as these inform Ian Maxwell’s characterisation of Australian trainers and trainees as “theatrical bowerbirds”, metaphorising the distinctive Austro-Papuan bird family that is renowned for a courtship ritual where the male decorates his bower with an eclectic range of bright objects, both natural and inorganic. Down under, disconnected from the celebrated training traditions of the northern hemisphere in the decades before globalised publishing, Australian trainers collected whatever they could get their hands on, arranging bespoke lineages that combined native and imported traditions.Continue reading
by James McLaughlin
Many trainers are used to writing – preserving their experiences, their systems of training, and their worldview in words. What is often forgotten is that there is more than one person in the studio, that the discoveries of the ‘master’ are due to the work of the ‘student’, and that the thoughts, voice, and discoveries of the students might be as valuable to understanding the phenomena of training as those of the trainer. A desire to demonstrate this was the impulse behind this collection of posts from five students who I have led through a version of Phillip Zarrilli’s psychophysical training at the University of Greenwich this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic set up a unique experience for me and the diversity of the students’ reflections shows that I am not alone in this. Alicia Bowditch-Gibbs’ piece shows the compromises made to allow an injured body to acclimatize to the training and the way a new training can resonate with older strata of training in the body. Paul Cole writes of recovering from Covid and the adjustments and innovations he was forced to make to fully engage with the work. To put these into context, I will introduce the student contributions with my own background with the training. In a follow-up post, three more students will reflect on the role of breath, spirit, and neurodiversity in training.Continue reading